Posts Tagged ‘supplements’

Do Supplements Really Boost Your Health?

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Supplementing with vitamins has become big business. Americans spend an average of $17 billion per year on their supplements. I have been among them until recently. I took a break from my vitamin regimen after I learned that I was not properly absorbing my nutrients and was deficient in several areas. I wondered how that could be…

It seems that those of us with Leaky Gut Syndrome, a condition in which the lining of the intestines becomes more permeable than it should be, tend to be malnourished. Food molecules that normally wouldn’t pass through the intestinal wall, slip by and alarm our immune system. Consequently, microphages come to the rescue and attack the foreign invader and we develop antibodies as a result. The next time that same food passes through our system, whether it slips through the intestinal wall or not, our body says, “There’s that foreign invader again!” and goes in for the attack. More and antibodies develop until we have a whole slew of food sensitivities—but that is a subject for another day.

I have been wondering how a foodie like me, who eats whole grains, beans, greens, fresh fruits and vegetables could become malnourished. Ironic, huh? Well, after much reading and discussion with my functional medicine and osteopathic physicians, I have a few answers.

When people with Leaky Gut take supplements, their digestive systems work about as well with vitamins as they do with food. Some of the nutrients get metabolized and reach their intended destination and some fail. According to my doctor, it is the metabolic pathway that is to blame. If that isn’t functioning properly, we seem to get stuck in a rut of compromised health. He explained that going after the resulting food sensitivities and allergies is like trying to catch the fragments once a bomb has gone off. You may get some, but many more will elude you and you will go around and around chasing after them.

The key is healing the underlying malfunction of the system. That takes probiotics, targeted supplements to heal specific areas in the metabolic pathway, and an increase in certain vitamins. Most of us don’t get nearly enough of the nutrients our bodies’ desire from our food or multi-vitamins. Years of single crop farming, pesticides and synthetic fertilizer have left our crops fairly malnourished as well. And, like us, in their compromised state, they require intervention to keep them from dying. Fortunately, we can get tested for our nutritional deficiencies and specifically target them with the correct supplements.

It seems that the quickest way for someone with food sensitivities to get their fair share of nutrients is by juicing. Max Gerson, MD, discovered after World War II a regimen that could literally cure cancer. Of course everyone is different, and it can’t cure all forms and all people, but it seems to have prolonged the life of many patients. Gerson’s daughter, Charlotte, has continued his work both in the US and in Mexico. I decided to take a page from their nutritional book and began juicing carrots and apples every day during the holidays. My husband and I continue to drink a delicious, 8-ounce glass of organic juice to raise our level of nutrients every day. Next, we will add in a daily greens juice with an apple to make it more palatable.

As for the vitamins, I’ll take my C, B, minerals, magnesium, calcium, and fish oil, as well as a multivitamin. I need whatever nourishment can get through my system. I won’t rely solely on any one source, though. I am also careful to make sure I know what is in each supplement I take, so I don’t get lots of synthetic fillers that my body doesn’t recognize or use.

The bottom line is that we are an undernourished overweight society. Convenience and easy access has cost us much more than our dollar. It has long-term health costs and consequences we are only beginning to understand. We would probably all do well to take a page from Gerson’s book and nourish ourselves back to health through whole fresh foods, juicing and targeted nutritional supplements.